This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

Send in the Clowns!

17 October 2014





Did she catch your eye? That girl looking into the camera? She distracts our attention from this saxophone quartet until we notice that the other three players are made up with clown faces. Of the four musicians dressed in military band uniforms, she's the only pretty one and no doubt the smart one too, in The Bonnes Cie., a music hall act from Belgium.





The name of the group, The Bonnes Cie., may involve an ironic mixture of the French word bon for good, (bonnes = fem. version) with the term bonnes for a domestic or housemaid. The use of an English article, The, with a French abbreviation Cie. for compagnie or company adds to the confusion, which of course is probably the idea since clowns specialize in nonsense. Here the quartet have replaced saxophones for muskets and bayonets and put on tall military hats. We get a larger view of the painted stage backdrop which shows an army encampment outside the walls of a formidable fortress.






The quartet now pose around a small cannon and we are left to wonder at what buffoonery is about to happen. Can you see the confetti about to explode in someone's face?



The postcards were never mailed but on the back is the mark of a photography studio in Anvers or Antwerp, Belgium where the languages spoken can be French, Flemish, and sometimes Dutch.

Photographie Jacqmain
113 RUE CARNOT, 113
ANVERS. Téléphone 5957

Poses á la lumière électrique, le
soir jusqu'á 8 heures également
les Dimanches
Pas de succursales.

Opnamen met electrisch licht.
's avonds tot 8 uren Zon-en
werkdagen
Geene bijhuizen

Pictures in electric light
evening up to 8:00 also Sundays.
No branches.
_ _


Source: The Internet








Somewhere in the vast universe of the internet, on a website now lost, I found this image of a colorful poster for

The Original Bonnes Co. 
Great Musical Novelty

The illustrator has used the last two photographs to draw the four comical characters in their military uniforms.  Presumably the jacket and trouser colors of red and blue did match the real costumes.

Though they are advertised as a musical novelty, for some reason the saxophones do not appear on the poster. However just behind their name is an American flag! What's that about?

_ _







The Bonnes quartet returned with instruments to an unnamed studio for this next photo postcard which shows a typical saxophone quartet in 4 different sizes, (l-r) soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones. The saxophone was invented in 1840 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian instrument maker working in Paris, who had the imagination to combine the single reed sound of a woodwind instrument with a brass instrument so that it would be louder and more stable when played outdoors in a military band. It could even be made in 8 sizes, with one smaller than the soprano, and three monstrous bass saxophones larger than the baritone. It was first used in French and Belgian army bands in the mid-19th century but was generally ignored by German bands and was not common in British and American bands until the 20th century. 

The musician's uniforms, except for the girl's gypsy bandana, resemble those of the Belgian army bands of the era before 1914, so I believe the photos of this vaudeville music hall act date from before the First World War.
 



The back of this postcard has the address of a French music agent in Paris,
Raoul PITAU
15, Rue de l'Echiquier, 15
PARIS
TELEPHONE No. 271 60

His stamp appears on other music hall acts of the pre-war era.












The Bonnes also brought along another quartet of instruments – 4 concertinas, a type of free reed button accordion. It would appear that the girl's instrument is one size larger and therefor more baritone than the squeezeboxes of the other men.





And what self-respecting clown could neglect the most comical of instruments – the highland bagpipes?  In this last photo, the Bonnes have changed instruments for two Scottish bagpipes with snare and bass drums. The tall bearskin caps were a feature of the grenadiers or guards uniforms in several armies as well as the British army. The pineapple shaped badge on the Bonnes' caps is the emblem of the Belgian grenadier regiment.


advertisment for Theatro S. Jose
Correio da Manhã, Rio de Janeiro
6 November 1926

The group kept together during the war years and must have been successful enough to keep people of any nationality laughing, as the Bonnes Co. - (phantasistas musicaes) turned up in a 1926 notice for a Brazilian music hall in Rio de Janeiro. They were on a South American tour and performed twice a day at 4:00 and 8:00 alongside Japanese acrobats, Tyrolean singers, and the Catalini bicyclists who pedaled around on a giant spinning plate. The theater also showed a silent film with the American actress Norma Talmadge.




I think the sound of a saxophone quartet can make terrific music, whether for classical, jazz, or pop. We can never know what jokes or music that the Bonnes Co. made, but if they were around today I think we might hear them performing at Disney World, just like this saxophone quartet that works the streets of the Tokyo Disney Resort. And they have one girl too.


<<>>


<<>>






This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link to find out what other folks have cobbled together this weekend.





The Band on the Pier

11 October 2014



The custom of having a band play to welcome a ship on its return to port is a fine naval tradition. But these musicians must have been a thrilling surprise to the young college men on deck, all Army ROTC students of the University of Maryland, who had just completed their first sea voyage. I know this detail because standing center left with his back to the camera is my father, Russell Brubaker. It was the summer of 1949 and he was 20 years old.

My father was about to start his junior year in the university's Reserve Officers Training Corps program. That summer he went to an ROTC training camp at Ft. Monmouth, NJ where he also found part-time work in the signal corps photography lab to help pay for his college expenses. This explains how he came to have this official 8" x 10" photo. The camp activities for the men included two field trips, first to Bermuda and later to Havana, Cuba. The cruise to Bermuda was aboard a U.S. Army Transport ship, the FS-122, which departed from Annapolis, MD but never actually got there, as half way into the Atlantic a bad storm forced them to turn around and return to a port in Hampton Roads, VA. The photo catches the moment of their arrival at the docks of the Ft. Eustis army base on the James River.

The ship was not part of the navy fleet but instead was operated by the army as a Freight and Supply vessel for transporting troops, equipment, and supplies. The FS-122 was one of many army cargo ships that played an important logistic role in World War 2 on both the Atlantic and Pacific campaigns. After the war many of these ships were moved into coast guard and navy service, but in 1949 though the operating crew were likely to be coast guardsmen they were still under army command. The fate of FS-122 is unknown but a website on US Coast Guard history provided an image of the FS-177 which probably resembles the ship my father was on that summer as it shared the same ship class design. 


U.S.A.T. ship FS-177
Source: United States Coast Guard

My father did not mention how long they were at sea. Since Bermuda is about 800 miles (1300 km) southeast from the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, I would guess they were aboard for at least 3 days which in rough weather it must have seemed twice as long for a Maryland country boy who had never been on a boat of any kind. When the small ship tied up to the wharf, the sound of a military band must have sharpened their sense of relief on getting ashore again.
   
There is a detail that makes this family photograph more interesting to me for its music history. The band playing on the pier is definitely a US Army band, but it is not one usually seen in photographs from this era. All the musicians are African-American as this is a band from one of the negro army battalions. Racial segregation was once an institutional part of the military just as it was in the rest of American society in the last century. In both WW1 and WW2 black servicemen were restricted to segregated units used mainly for support work, and many served in the US Army Transportation Corps. Though President Truman officially ended segregation in the armed forces by signing Executive Order 998 on July 26, 1948, the implementation struggled against fierce opposition. A year later Truman's Secretary of the Army, Gen. Kenneth Claiborne Royall, still refused to desegregate the army and was compelled to resign. 





I've been unable to make an exact identification of this army band, but I believe it could have been attached to the 62nd Transportation Truck Battalion, a negro unit which was reactivated in 1947 from the former 120th Quartermaster Battalion and was stationed in Ft. Eustis managing heavy trucks from 1947 to 1950.  Since Virginia was a state in America's segregated South, there are few public records of a negro battalion band and they may have rarely played off the base for civilian audiences. What I can be sure of is that they made a big impression on one young man.

The University of Maryland's ROTC program trained officers for the army's air, infantry, signal, and transportation corps. Though my father initially chose the signal corps, in January 1951 after completing all his courses, he received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the transportation corps detailed to the infantry. 1951 would turn out to be a busy year as in August he married my mom and by the end of the year he was on board another ship, this time crossing the Pacific to join the war in Korea.    


A few years later my father saw this pier again when the army posted him to Ft. Eustis and he would return twice more during nearly 25 years of service at 15 different stations. Somehow that summer field trip of 1949 left him with a taste for saltwater, and after his retirement our family chose a home on the water in Virginia Beach, VA. The inland bays around the Chesapeake inspired my dad's enthusiasm for boating and shortly after leaving the army he became a volunteer in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, exchanging a uniform of army khaki for one in coast guard blue. Over nearly as many years as his army career, my dad was an instructor for the USCG Aux and taught countless people how to tie a proper knot; navigate a small boat on a dark night; and hoist the correct sail in a storm. On weekends he would take his own boat out to stand watch and help the Coast Guard monitor the thousands of boaters and fishermen on the popular waters of Virginia Beach. When motors failed or sails got fouled, my dad and his fellow Auxiliarists were there to assist. 




2nd Lt. Russell E. Brubaker



Two weeks ago on Friday morning September 26th my father died unexpectedly
but quietly at his home. He was 85. Somehow fortune sent me there for a visit that week and
allowed me to be with him and my mother. 






Earlier this year when I found this photo in the family file box my dad was able to explain some of the context then. Setting aside the band on the pier, I thought it made a great photograph because of how it set up my father's future career. I know that this small adventure captured his imagination and persuaded him that the army life was for him, changing his focus from radio engineering to the logistic side of military organization. It would lead to many more adventures in Korea, France, Germany, and Vietnam. Later after retirement he continued to enjoy the excitement of travel, though without the hazard pay, visiting exotic places like Russia, Egypt, and even England a few times.  

And certainly this short experience on the water had a profound effect on our family life too. We once lived three years in Kansas and I don't ever remember a discussion about retiring to Topeka. Even the band music had a consequence, as the first live music I can recall hearing was of an army band, and though I may have taken up a civilian line in music, whenever I hear (or play) Sousa's El Capitan march my feet start to tap just as my dad's must have on that day on the James River.


This past week while helping my mom put his affairs in order, we discovered notebooks that my dad had used over the past several years to write down events from his life. Scattered around the pages are various memories and stories like a long list of every home he lived in (42) including descriptions and hand-drawn maps of the house layouts. A chronology of his military career with the units and his rank. Several pages devoted to a detailed list of every car he owned, along with the approximate mileage. Even a list of the members of his 1940 high school baseball team. Tucked into one notebook were two loose papers entitled "Why I Chose An Army Career" which gave me the extra details to his photo. I know my Sepia Saturday readers will recognize what a priceless treasure this is.

Photographs are about light and time. We see a moment and wonder what it all means. A beam of light refracts through the prism of a camera and creates an image of history spread out in a broad band of color. In this photo of my dad, I know what happens next. It's a long and rich story that will take some time to tell. I will miss him more than I can say, but I haven't lost his voice.







This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link for more traveler's tales.







Two Make Three

26 September 2014





When does two make three? When one half of a pair is doubled of course. In this case it is the two musicians and three cornets of the Esperantoj Artisto. On the left stands a woman playing a cornet while her gentleman partner holds two brass instruments to his lips. One is an ordinary cornet in his right hand while the larger instrument in his left a flugelhorn. He has a very uncommon skill to vibrate his lips simultaneously on both sides of his mouth.

The woman's elaborate embroidered dress with pearls and sequined butterflies could only be suitable for a music hall artist. This French postcard has no postmark but dates from around 1910. Google's Translate considers their name to be in the artificial language of Esperanto.


_










Not only could this duo play trios on cornets but they also played the cor de chasse, the true French hunting horn. This instrument has no valves so the Esperantaj Artisoj musicians demonstrate it in the traditional manner with the bell held up to both left or right.

The sound of the hunting horn is quite loud and raucous, which is appropriate for an outdoor instrument. In France it is commonly played by groups of cor de chasse players arranged with the musicians turning their backs and the horn bells towards the audience. Another copy of this image has a postmark date of 1909.


_











In this postcard, the duo has changed sides and Monsieur plays two cornets while his female partner holds the flugelhorn. Their name has changed to Les Gouget, Virtuoses musiciens.

Monsieur Gouget is dressed in formal white tie and tail coat, and wears a medal on his coat pocket. Perhaps it it a prize for most duets by one musician. Madame Gouget wears a longer embroidered gown, but I think her sensible stage shoes are the same as in the previous photos.

Making the fingers work six valves and buzzing a doubled sound with the lips into two brass mouthpieces is difficult but not impossible. But tonguing is another matter. It would take quite a special technique to get the right rhythmic articulation while playing two brass instruments at once. That would be real artistry!

Did Madame develop this same talent?


_








In this last card the duo has made yet another name change, this time to English, as:
The celebrated Gouget's Fantaisistes  9, Rue des Petites Écuries, Paris
(The Street of the Small Stables) 

Both musicians hold a cor de chasse at the ready, and evidently they considered themselves world class artists as seen by their white traveling outfits. Monsieur Gouget wears a kind of colonial officers uniform with tropical topee hat while Madame Gouget is dressed in a short skirt and jacket with a kind of automobile touring hat. And both wear very high and tight fitted boots.  

What music did the Gougets play? Did they include other instruments or more musicians?  Did they make costume changes in their act?

We may never find those answers but they surely captured the attention of any music hall audience.


_




This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where every couple is on a bike.





Among my family photographs, there is a photo made in the 1920s of my grandmother Blanche Dobbin that makes a match with the Sepia Saturday theme. Not yet 20 years old she sits perched on the back of her cousin's motorcycle, outside his home in Washington D.C. 



Many years later when I was in my 20s and still in college, I bought a motorcycle and once gave my grandmother a very short ride. I doubt we went any faster than 40 mph but she had quite a thrill, no doubt remembering this long ago moment with her cousin.  




A Royal Family

19 September 2014




Once upon a time there was a prince who lived in a grand palace.
On summer evenings, he and his beautiful  wife enjoyed nothing better
than to listen to their children play music together.
 

Until one day when it all vanished in a flash. 


These might be the opening lines of a fairy tale,
except that it is a true story. 


It begins with a photo postcard of three musical children whose father was the Erzherzog Leopold Salvator, an Austrian Archduke of the Habsburg-Lorraine royal family. His oldest son Rainer sits at an ornate grand piano, while younger brother Leopold and sister Antonie stand on either side holding violins. The photographer, Nashbruck Verg. (?), has left a nice embossed logo in the lower right corner with a date of 1908. Notice that the two boys wear sandals under their sailor suits and short pants, which seems a very modern footwear for the 1900s.

But Rainer, Leopold, and Antonie were just three of 10 children of the Erzherzog Leopold Salvator (1863 – 1931) and his wife, the Infanta Blanca of Spain (1868 – 1949).  Altogether there were 5 boys and 5 girls. Antonie, or more properly Maria Antonia, had 3 older sisters. In this next postcard, father Leopold sits on the left with his youngest child, Karl Pius, and mother Blanca stands center.




All the children shared the title Erzherzog, or Erzherzogin for the girls, which translates from German as Archduke or Archduchess. It came by way of their father, Archduke Leopold Salvator. Though he was born in Bohemia, Leopold was a member of the Tuscan, Italy branch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine which was one branch of a very complicated family tree of the Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire. He was the eldest son of Archduke Karl Salvator and Princess Maria Immaculata of the Bourbon-Two Sicilies, who produced 10 children. He was also the grandson of Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Archduchess Blanca was the eldest child of Carlos, Duke of Madrid, a claimant to both the throne of Spain and the throne of France too, and his wife Princess Margherita of Bourbon-Parma. The title Infanta is used in Spain to signify a daughter of royal blood. However Blanca's father was born in Slovenia, and her mother in Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.
 
This tangled lineage of royal houses was once common knowledge in past centuries when royalty was the only celebrity status that mattered. In 1908, noble blood lines were particularly convoluted in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as it held a great many national groups in what was then a very large country. 


Archduke Leopold Salvator
of Austria, Prince of Tuscany
Source: Wikipedia

As one of many Archdukes in the Austrian nobility, Leopold Salvator was given various state duties by Emperor Franz Josef who was simultaneously Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary in a political arrangement that kept the two principal parts of the empire, Austria and Hungary, on a more or less equal status. This created the uniquely Austrian German term kaiserlich und königlich  meaning Imperial and Royal, usually abbreviated k.u.k.  Leopold found service in the k.u.k. army as an inspector of artillery and seems to have had an excellent tailor for his magnificent uniforms. Did you spot his spurs in the previous photo? Leopold was a first cousin and exact contemporary with the Emperor's nephew and heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand who was also born in 1863 to Leopold's mother's sister. 





In this postcard, the Salvator family stands outside on the terrace of one of their residences in Vienna. Only seven children and the family dog are with their parents. Missing is the very youngest son and two oldest daughters. Infanta Blanca was very proud of her Spanish heritage and took special efforts to give her many children an education suitable for their high ranking position in a multinational society. In 1944 a book about the second youngest son, Archduke Franz Josef, was written by Bertita Harding. It is entitled Lost Waltz: A Story of Exile and in it she describes details of mother Blanca.

Of greater importance than her accent was the Infanta's choice of reading matter. For entertainment of the younger children she kept on hand the Contes de Fees or fairy tales published by Hachette's famed Bibliotheque Rose Illustre. This fascinating gold-beveled edition was garnished with steel engravings that were either of a cloying sweetness, adored by the very young, or else capable of arousing the most horrendous fright.

Here were the old familiar stories, dear to childhood everywhere. But with a difference. Due to the Infanta's zeal for variation, which in her case was phonetically no variation at all, the listeners became at times confused. Mama liked reading the same tale successively in four tongues, which called for mental agility on the part of her audience. Quite early the children learned that Cinderella was at the same time Cendrillon in French, Cenicienta in Spanish and Aschenbroedel in German. Equally Little Red Riding Hood became Petit Chaperon Rouge, Caperucita Roja, or Rotkappchen, while the dread figure of Bluebeard reappeared as Barbe Bleue, Barba Azul, or the ominous Blaubart.






Palais Toskana, Wien
Source: Wikipedia
The Salvator family home in the city of Vienna was known as the Palais Toskana, a palatial residence built in 1867 in the neo-classic style. I suspect that the previous photos were taken at this home. 





Archduchess Maria Antonia (1899 – 1977) was baptized with the names Maria Antonia Roberta Blanka Leopoldina Karole Josepha Raphaela Michaela Ignatia Aurelia, but was called Mimi by her family. One can only wonder what pedigree names were given to the dogs, but this alert dog standing by her was more than a family pet.

The postcard caption reads:

Erzherzogin Maria Antonia mit
ihrem Hund der für Kriegszwecke
zur Verfügung gestellt wurde.  

Archduchess Maria Antonia with
her dog
which was used
for 
war purposes.

On June 28, 1914 Maria Antonia's cousin, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo. A month later Austria and the rest of Europe was at war.

_





Archduke Rainer (1895 – 1930) was born in Agram, now known as Zagreb, Croatia. His full name was Rainer Karl Leopold Blanka Anton Margarete Beatrix Peter Joseph Raphael Michael Ignaz Stephan. As the eldest son of Archduke Leopold his future was planned for him from birth, and service in the Emperor's k.u.k. army was a duty in time of war. 

His younger brother Archduke Leopold (1897 – 1958), also born in Agram, was given the names Leopold Maria Alfons Blanka Karl Anton Beatrix Michael Joseph Peter Ignatz von Habsburg-Lothringen.

In 1914 at the start of World War I, both Rainer, age 19, and Leopold, age 18, joined an artillery regiment as lieutenants, no doubt through their father's influence. Leopold distinguished himself in 1917 at the Battle of Medeazza, near Trieste, Italy and was awarded the prestigious Order of the Golden Fleece by his great uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph in one of the last honors given by the old Emperor who died in 1916.   

(How the Emperor managed to do this months after his death is not explained in Leopold's Wikipedia entry so we will have to accept this as part of the fairy tale. Perhaps the Golden Fleece was a prize for some other good conduct)


_


















In this wartime photo with their mother, the two young officers wear more elaborate dress uniforms. Rainer leans against a piano, which is similar to the one in the 1908 photo but it has different legs. On the wall behind them are portraits of two sisters. Can you spot the sandals?

This photo may have been taken at the family's country residence, a large estate on the edge of the famed Vienna Woods, called Schloss Wilhelminenberg. This very grand house had previously belonged to another royal member of the Salvator family tree who had died childless, and in 1913 it was inherited by Archduke Leopold Salvator. 


_





Schloss Wilhelminenberg
Source: Wikipedia
The first version of this house was built in 1781 but by 1903 it had became dilapidated and was demolished and rebuilt in the new Second Empire style. In the book Lost Waltz: A Story of Exile there is this description:

At Schloss Wilhelminenberg there were eighty-six servants, all told. This included chauffeurs, grooms, stableboys, valets, cooks, maids, gardeners, gatekeepers, laundresses, dressmakers, mending women, and the nursemaid Resi. Most of these workers, with the exception of the valets, personal maids, and Resi, were housed in separate quarters adjoining the mews, some fifty meters below the archducal home. Daily an administrator set the wheels of the great estate in motion, taking stock of the produce from vegetable and fruit gardens, as well as budgeting the household's needs.


During the war it was converted for use as an army hospital, as was the Archduke Salvator's in-town residence, the Palais Toskana. However the music room of the Schloss Wilhelminenberg probably continued as a center for family concerts. This next photo, courtesy of Wikipedia, shows the Salvator family arranged in a splendid room. Maria Antonia is on the left by her father, and behind her is an older sister with a violin while another brother, Franz Josef, sits at yet one more ornate piano. In the center standing behind his father and sporting a maturing mustache, is Rainer surprisingly with a rotary valve trumpet tucked under one arm.

It looks like a very happy family. But as this must be around 1917 or 1918, they can not know that days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire are soon to come to an end.  



Archduke Leopold Salvator and his wife Infanta Blanca
with their ten children
Source: Wikipedia

The end of the Great War of 1914-1918 brought dramatic changes to many countries where monarchies were dissolved in favor of new forms of government. For an Austrian Archduke whose country was on the losing side, this was especially troubling. The life of privilege and entitlement that Leopold and his family had enjoyed for generations came to a crashing halt. There was no longer an emperor or king to serve, and the Austro-Hungarian empire was divided into multiple new nations. The property of royal households was taken over by the new state governments, and Archduke Leopold's personal wealth of lavish houses, fancy uniforms, and gilded pianos was lost forever.

Thankfully no one in this family lost their life in the war but things were never the same after 1918. Archduke Leopold and Infanta Blanca would not recognize the new Austrian republic and were forced to leave Vienna and become exiles from their homeland. Their royal family connections to France and Italy offered no benefit as these countries had been at war with Austria, so Blanca sought asylum in Spain which was granted only after she and her children renounced any claim to the Spanish throne. They moved into a modest house in Barcelona. In 1931 while on a trip to Austria in an effort to recover some of his confiscated properties, Leopold Salvator died at age 67. Now a widow without support, Blanca and three of her children moved back to Vienna, ironically renting three rooms in their former home, the Palais Toskana. When Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, they moved to Viareggio,Italy where they ran a small vineyard until her death in 1949.

Brothers Rainer and Leopold, were allowed to remain in Vienna after renouncing all claims to the Austrian throne. For a time Rainer ran a auto garage and then a motorcycle service delivering film reels to cinemas. In 1930 at age 35 he died of blood poisoning in Vienna. He never married.

Leopold stayed in Vienna as bit longer, but after a failed marriage ended in 1931, he moved to the United States, eventually ending up as a factory worker in Connecticut where he died in 1958.

Maria Antonia stayed with her parents on the move to Barcelona. When her parents become concerned that she might take holy orders and become a nun, she was sent to the Island of Mallorca where she fell in love with a man who belonged to family of minor Spanish nobility. They married and lived in Mallorca with their five children until his death in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. Seeing no prospects in Spain, Maria Antonia emigrated with her children to Uruguay where she married for a second time in 1942. She died in Brazil in 1977.

The grand estate of Schloss Wilhelminenberg was sold to a Swiss banker after the war in 1922, but he lost it in foreclosure to the city of Vienna. For a time it was used by the celebrated Vienna Boys Choir, and in the next war reverted to use as a military hospital. It is now run as a hotel.  



-_ - _-



For thousands of years, musicians depended on royal patronage. Being a member of the aristocratic class meant having lots of leisure time for the appreciation of high culture. The pages of music history are filled with references to noble princes hiring musicians, commissioning composers, or engaging music teachers for their children. Many great musicians like Mozart and Beethoven supplemented their income by giving music lessons to children of royal families. For boys the music was only a recreation but for girls it could be their primary education, as daughters were considered more marriageable if they had accomplishments on a musical instrument. That relationship between royalty and musicians changed just as dramatically with the end of World War One. 

The photos of Archduke Leopold Salvator and his family intrigue me because of their evident love of music. We can not know how serious the children were at learning a musical instrument but the instruments were clearly important enough to be included in these formal Salvator family photos. I don't believe this was a common practice of other wealthy and illustrious Austrian families, so I think it indicates a special family pride in musical accomplishments. 

But the thing that really interests me about these images is that they are postcards. For whom were these postcards made? None of these photos were ever sent through the mail and only two have a name of a collector imprinted on the back. Did cousins across the many branches of the Hapsburg family tree exchange them on the holidays? Were they sold at the corner newsstand like other ordinary tourist postcards? Why did a member of a royal family go to such efforts to have fine photographs made into postcards?

Uncovering the detail about the many domestic servants employed at Archduke Leopold's Schloss Wilhelminenberg got me thinking about a larger family unseen behind the camera. Many household servants probably spent their entire lives looking after royal children, from infancy to adulthood. Despite the differences in class and position, many servants must have developed an affectionate attachment to their royal charges. What could be a better gift for 86 family servants than a collection of souvenir postcard portraits of the Salvator family?

I'm happy to entertain other ideas about why the postcards were made, but this seems to me as good an explanation as any. It is also another example of a class relationship that was destroyed by war and the subsequent collapse of the European monarchies.

Fairy tales do not always end well.
 




This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link for more sailor suits.



nolitbx

  © Blogger template Shush by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP